Although it’s small, you will feel cozy and welcomed here. With its fabulous canalside architecture, wealth of quirky bars and some of Belgium’s most fascinating museums – this city will leave you speechless for a long time.
Ghent can be as cheap or as expensive as you want. The good news is that it is a budget friendly spot filled with many budget/free things to do. So get creative and prepare yourself for a day in Ghent on the cheap!
Getting to Ghent
Ghent can be easily reached by car. It’s only 3 hours from Amsterdam. If not, you can take Eurolines bus that costs between €7-€15. The quickest you book your tickets, the cheaper it will be.
Moreover, there are 3 tram lines running from Ghent train station to various central locations. Tickets can be purchased from the automatic machines at the tram stops for about €2/£1.50. Taxis from Ghent train station into the city centre cost about €30/£24, but local transport is much better option in terms of budget.
AirBnB is a great option for couples and traveling in a group. You can rent an entire apartment for the weekend and share the bill (you can see mine below).
It is approximately €150-€200 euro for a 2-day stay, but you can also find much cheaper places where the prices start from €25 a night. It’s comfy and affordable. You can make your own food and feel like home during your stay.
For single travelers I would recommend couchsurfing. Belgians are hospitable and they are always willing to accommodate foreigners while showing them around.
The hostels in Ghent are not that expensive either. Dorms are usually for €8-€15 a night.
Top budget things to do and go to
1 – Walk to St Peter’s Abbey and enjoy the view (it also has a delightful oasis of a garden that can be just perfect for a picnic or lunch).
2 – Climb the 91m Belfort just before midday to see the clock chiming in its full glory. It’s a great bell-ringing experience!
3 – Explore Gravensteen – it is a historical originating from the Middle Ages that is situated at an altitude of 9 meters.
4 – The castle is open from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 till 18:00. The entrance fee is 6 euro for everyone below 26 years old and 10 for older visitors.
The castle is an unexpected gem. Not the biggest of castles, but well-presented with info in English as well as other languages. Wonderfully atmospheric, especially in the dungeon, and informative. The crime and punishment exhibit was very good and was helpful to our eldest boy who is studying History A level. Be aware that there are plenty of stairs, but as you are directed one way around, these are dealt with on the first part of the visit. The views from the top are spectacular.
5 – Pray at one of local churches that are extremely quiet and beautiful inside.
Affordable food and drinks
Cafe Labath – Oude Houtlei 1, 9000 Gent | www.cafelabath.be | open from Monday to Friday 8:00-19:00, Saturday 9:00-19:00 and Sunday 10:00-18:00.
It is a very nice place to have a coffee, croissant or tea. You have the choice between different types of hot as well as cold drinks. Sometimes it is crowded and you have to search a free table among them covered with laptops and people who are working, but it is worth relaxing and enjoying the daily flow in this place. Note: the prices were a bit too high in my opinion though.
Gent has a lot of nice places where you can dine out on a budget such as Avalon, Komkommertijd, Le Boniaste or Lekker Gec (you can check Happy Cow list for more info).
Vegan and vegetarian food is more expensive than usual take aways. However, it is still much cheaper to grab a healthy salad or smoothie than having a full lunch or dinner with a dessert in a proper restaurant.
Things to avoid and be extra careful about
- Delineation between cycle lane and pavement is not always clear, so be careful when cycling!
- Paardenlookworst is a traditional horsemeat topped with garlic sausage. If you are vegetarian/vegan, you don’t want to order it.
- Citadelpark is not very safe at night.
- Visit information desk to ask for help. It is located just in front of Gravensteen.